SNOW: Tolstoy, Rasputin, Others and Me by Teffi

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Tolstoy, Rasputin, Others, and Me: The Best of Teffi (New York Review of Books Classics, 2016)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

I can thank Women in Translation Month for my introduction to Russian author Teffi, born Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1872. Last year, the New York Review of Books published two translations of her work, Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea, an account of her last few months living in the Russia and the Ukraine before she was forced into exile in Paris in the 1920s and 30s, and Tolstoy, Rasputin, Others and Me, a collection of autobiographical short stories that span everything from her flirtations with Rasputin to life as a writer in the months before the Russian Revolution. I chose the latter collection because I’m a sucker for Rasputin, but these stories delve so much deeper – into the difficulties of motherhood, finding a place for art in revolution, and discussions of power and powerlessness as a woman at the turn of the century – and they accomplish all that with a stunning balance of humor and poetic language. Suffice to say, I devoured these stories in a weekend, and I have plans to snag a copy of Memories at the next appropriate moment. Continue reading